Although the government provides free healthcare services to everyone in the country, private pharmacies also play a crucial role. It provides quick advice and medication for minor illnesses and helps reduce pressure on hospitals and healthcare providers. Their importance has been further felt in Trongsa, where the people have been yearning for a pharmacy for years.
It has been around 4 years since the only pharmacy in Trongsa town was closed down. Since then, people have been visiting hospitals even for minor ailments.
For some patients, they have to travel to pharmacies in nearby districts to buy prescribed medicines that are available only at a pharmacy.
“People here are facing numerous problems without a pharmacy. For instance, even to buy painkillers like paracetamol, we need to go to Bumthang or we have to ask our relatives who are residing in nearby districts. It’s inconvenient,” said Tashi Choden, a resident.
Yeshi Jamtsho, a resident said, “It has been many years without a medical shop. Sometimes, when we visit a hospital, they ask us to buy medicines which are not available in the hospital. For that, we have to either visit Bumthang or Wangdue Phodrang.”
“Without any medical shop, we have limited access to medication. Most of us have to travel long distances and buy medicines. It’s a lot more difficult for women. We have a lot of emergencies and treatments get delayed. We sometimes have to purchase medicine online, which is costlier,” said Karma Yangzom, a student.
The District Health Officer says it is important to have at least one pharmacy in the district. Although his office has been encouraging eligible individuals to start a pharmacy and agreed to provide technical assistance, he said no one is coming forward.
One reason, why people are not willing to open a pharmacy may be because of the eligibility criteria. According to the Bhutan Medicines Rules and Regulation 2019, only a competent person can operate a pharmacy. That competent person has to have a Bachelor’s degree in a relevant field with a minimum work experience of two years or a Diploma in the relevant field with a minimum work experience of five years.
So until the district has someone eligible to start a pharmacy, people in Trongsa may have to continue with their troubles.
Sonam Tshering, Trongsa
Edited by Sangay Chezom